Signs you’re about to get axed?

Title pretty much says all. But how do you know if you're about to be axed / on the radar for being axed? Serious question. I feel like I can only recall 1 or 2 analysts who I know of firsthand to have been axed.

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Comments (51)

Apr 4, 2021 - 7:19am

Depends on the reason to be honest.

If due to poor performance I imagine one's manager will have had conversations with them that they need to improve due to targets being missed etc or a general lack of effort. If due to financial issues with the firm then a lot of the time there won't be many signs at all.

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Apr 4, 2021 - 3:36pm

Hate to say it this way, but the biggest sign is that you're posting on WSO about it. If you have a funky gut instinct that you're not long for the day, don't wait. Update your resume ASAP and start applying and hitting up your network. That gut instinct is usually correct or at least picking up on something even if you're not 100% sure. 

Apr 5, 2021 - 5:44pm

Ehh, not always. I had lingering thoughts that I was gonna get axed for a while at a former company, but ended up getting a promotion. I was just judging myself way too harshly; I saw minor issues and errors as career-ending events and pretty much glossed over my positive contributions as bare minimum for the job, and the opposite was pretty much the case. Overthinking can just as easily lead to the conclusion you're going to get let go as actual poor performance. 

May 1, 2021 - 10:55am

I agree that their manager would have performance discussions and talk about improving, but they don't consistently put people on a performance improvement plan.  They only need to document the poor performance if they want to terminate for cause. I think many firms will terminate without cause (even if they do have good reasons) and simply pay out the required severance - helps reduce risk of litigation. Though it also depends on how much severance they would need to pay out. If you've a junior, then probably not much.  

That being said, being terminated for performance reasons should never be a surprise. Whether you're on a formal performance improvement plan with HR or not, your manager / team leads should be having conversations where they nudge at the need for improvement.

May 26, 2021 - 5:02pm

Regarding PIP's - some advice for the young kings, if you are ever put on one do everything you can to make the metrics actual measurable metrics. Obviously you are not in total control here but talk through them with your manager and don't agree to anything vague like "actively participate in meetings" or "interacting better with coworkers" push that to be like "takes notes in meetings and follows up," so you have physical evidence to prove your participation, or for interacting better push to "responds to emails within x days" 

If the points aren't measurable, you're being politicced out of the office.

  • 1
  • Analyst 3+ in RE - Comm
Apr 5, 2021 - 5:57pm

I've done this. Helps to know what raises/promotions looked like across the board and if the firm truly values contributions or is more of a tenure thing. Although one convo made it's way to the head and we got the "you should not ever be discussing comp" lecture, but I still think it's beneficial.

Plus, comp gets talked about way more than you would think in ways that are not direct or even related to you or other juniors. Like the "what do you think Jon the VP makes" or "what do you think Dave the MD's bonus was last year" questions are asked and talked about by everyone, juniors and seniors alike.

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  • VP in PE - Other
Apr 5, 2021 - 6:23pm

First hand experience.

1. Received less than perfect review - reviews however were oddly broad, not indicative of totally blowing it and even some mentioned outstanding/above and beyond type work (still received a decent bonus)

2. Put on a PIP: zero guidance, just told to figure it out. Proceeded to have sit down meetings with every banker that would have me, some were excited to help, others just gave me vague tips

3. 6 mos later have review scheduled to "check-in." Feedback received from superiors was positive leading into that week

First few months on PIP I was so laser focused on improving that I did not really notice my surroundings changing. First it was handing off some rote market update tasks to a first year, next it was another analyst joining a deal team I was on (deal was upsized so tbh wasn't sus at the time). Over the length of the PIP though I had the gut feeling, that this was not going to end well. Going into the last couple weeks of the year, prior to final "review" I took an interview at a competitor but declined a follow-up because I had the idiotic thought that maybe I was moving on from the PIP and everything was going to be alright. Wrong. We had our firm Christmas party and a week later at the review I was axed. Received some bullshit condolence from the head of the group and walked out the door.  

Having had many years to process this now, I should have trusted my gut feeling and executed on a plan to move on. I can understand a bit of performance anxiety but if you feel like your group has soured on you, you're probably right. I recouped some benefit from staying on for the PIP in terms of some instant-vesting and a respectable severance but taking it on the chin like that really hurt my pride. Through it all, it was a priceless lesson and served as a major fire to go out and achieve on my own terms.

If you are reading this and have just been axed, do your best to decompress for a few weeks then get ready to pound the pavement. It was not an easy climb back up but you can do it.    

  • Analyst 3+ in HF - Other
Apr 5, 2021 - 8:51pm

I've had a similar experience. I honestly believed I could come back from the PIP. However, after more years of experience, I've realized almost no one comes back from a PIP.

Pro-tip, max out your retirement matching. 

  • Analyst 3+ in IB - Ind
Apr 6, 2021 - 3:43pm

Was also put on a PIP at my previous shop - they ended up firing everyone that was on it. 

Followed everything to the letter and always asked for feedback but HR could not never point out a specific incident where I fucked up.

Luckily, I googled what PIPs were and realised that no one got out from one.

I started looking around and ended up going to a much better shop. 

  • Analyst 3+ in HF - Other
Apr 5, 2021 - 8:47pm

A bad performance review or performance improvement plan. They need to create a trail of evidence to fire you.

Apr 6, 2021 - 2:09pm

It's a lot easier to defend a firing (even in an at-will state) by showing the paper trail, tough to argue that it was discrimination based on a protected class if you have performance documentation. 

Apr 5, 2021 - 10:19pm

In this same line of thinking, PIPs I've heard some people I know were on were signed by them, but do you actually have to sign them, since they're effectively never in your best interest?

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Apr 5, 2021 - 11:44pm

I don't mean to derail the thread, but in what scenario would a firm ask you to resign rather than straight up fire you?

typically thats a "save face" move, like you embezzled or something and they give you that choice. 

It matters in terms of getting unemployment and some of your benefits. Keeps people from working the required time to collect unemployment, and then just quitting. 

  • Associate 2 in RE - Comm
Apr 6, 2021 - 12:31am

Was let go recently wherein my employer asked me to resign and I jumped at the offer, thinking that resigning would offer better prospects down the line than being officially terminated. Somewhat regretting that move now. If you're in a similar situation, I would advise you get terminated so that you can receive unemployment

  • Analyst 1 in IB-M&A
Jun 3, 2021 - 12:20am

I don't mean to derail the thread, but in what scenario would a firm ask you to resign rather than straight up fire you?

Sometimes someone starts and it becomes very obvious early it's a bad fit. For example, say a post MBA or lateral started at a firm and within a month virtually everyone working with the individual has complaints. Generally there can be a convo with the individual where hr leads them down the path to resigning. Often the individual doesn't put the job on their resume and the firm acts like it never happened-it's a clean break for both parties since neither the employee or the firm wishes the hire had happened. 

Apr 5, 2021 - 11:49pm

basically everything everyone has said above. Are you getting less work, are you getting promoted, are you the go-to, does your boss talk to you about the future. 

I'll add, you really shouldn't work somewhere for a year and not understand the landscape. Hate to say it, but every group in every office has a range of employees from "scape goat" to the "golden boy/girl". So depending where you fall on this scale, you can kind of assess your life at the firm.    

May 1, 2021 - 2:01pm
Have compassion as well as ambition and you’ll go far in life
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